May 28, 2024

Website about Jazz and Blues

Interview with Thomas Naim: Soul is definitely the most important aspect to me, especially in improvised music: Video

Jazz interview with jazz guitarist and composer Thomas Naïm. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Thomas Naïm: – I grew up in Paris, my parents are not professional musicians but they are music lovers, like almost everybody in my family. My mother played the guitar when she was young and my dad used to sing and play the piano when I was a child. My first musical crush was Simon and Garfunkel and then The Beatles, my parents had all their records and I’ve listened to them many times.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the guitar? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the guitar?

TN: – I was a rock and roll fan and the king instrument in rock music is the guitar, so when I’ve decided to learn an instrument I chose the guitar. At first I learned to play pop tunes with a teacher on a classical guitar, so I played with my fingers. After a couple of years I took more rock oriented electric guitar lessons. Then I got more interested in Jazz. I started learning from books and later with a teacher who showed me the basics of jazz harmony and improv, scales … One of the best teachers that I had was Peter Giron a bass player. I studied one year with him in his class at the American School of modern music in Paris and he helped me a lot improving my ear and my time.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

TN: – I think my sound is getting better over the years, well at least I hope 😉 I try to have a round sound in general, I really like playing hollow body guitars and archtops because they can have a warm and fat clean sound.

I’m now more and more focusing on chordal playing and triads more than just playing single notes when I’m soloing for example. I think my sound may evolve again in the future because of that.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

TN: – I sometimes play two or three arpeggios kind of exercises just to warm up but I always practice new things. The only exercises I keep returning to are the exercises from the « George Van Eps Harmonic Mechanisms » books. Three volumes exist and those books are a gold mine for harmonic exercises on the guitar. I really recommend them if you want to strengthen your left hand and your knowledge of harmony applied to the guitar. As for the rhythm, I practice a lot with the metronome of course, with exercises that can solidify my tempo. What I really like to do is to put the metronome at a very slow tempo around 10 or less and improvise or play a tune while keeping the pace. It helps me solidify my sense of time.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

TN: – Well, thank you for saying that my playing is sensitive. As far as dissonance is concerned, it’s just a consequence of what was happening around, what the others were playing. I surely didn’t feel like playing with too much dissonance while recording those tracks, but I like it too, when I feel it can sound good.

Anyway I wanted to have simple harmonies on this album in general so we could take the time to develop ideas, like in modal jazz.

JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

TN: – I’m not afraid to include disparate influences in what I’m doing. The only thing I try to be careful of is taking the time to digest such influences and try to make it mine cause the goal of any musician in the end is to sound unique even if you can guess his influences.

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2018: <Desert Highway>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

TN: – I’m happy with the interaction between the three of us on this album. We were writing the arrangements while recording the album and I think it gave some freshness to the music. I’m very happy about the sound of the record too. It doesn’t sound like a classic jazz record, it has its own original sound, with a deep low end.

I had been thinking for a long time about recording a guitar-double-bass-drums trio album and it was the right compositions and the right time for me to do it.

I’m now working on finding gigs for the trio to play that music live. The record is a starting point for me, there is a lot to explore with these compositions and the best place for experimenting is on stage, in front of an audience.

In parallel I’m producing a new EP of « Tom & Joy », a Brazilian influenced duo that I started with my cousin Joyce Hozé over 20 years ago.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

TN: – Soul is definitely the most important aspect to me, especially in improvised music. I prefer a musician that plays three simple notes with soul to a musician that can play fast and impressive lines but with little soul inside. I don’t like to intellectualize too much when I’m playing, I prefer to let my intuition guide me. Of course in order to play interesting music without having to think too much on the spot, you need to have a good knowledge of harmony and rhythm and you have to master it. To me intellect must be involved when practicing. But on stage or when recording, you should let the soul speaks.

JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

TN: – It’s important to remember that you’re playing in front of an audience and not only for yourself or the band. For the most part they like to be surprised and they are ready for the unexpected. If you really have faith in the music you play, I don’t think you need to concede anything. The audience will feel you are honest and they will enjoy your music, or at least your performance. We tend to sometimes underestimate the audience’s appetite in discovering new things and being surprised.

JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

TN: – I have lots of memories from gigs or studio sessions, but one of the best was to be able to record a tune I wrote with the singer Joyce Hozé for our duo « Tom & Joy »(« Antigua ») with the legendary drummer Tony Allen over ten years ago. It was an amazing experience to see him play the drums right in front of me. With Fela, Tony greatly influenced my music.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

TN: – I think those tunes are timeless and they can interest young people because the melodies are very strong. It just depends on the way you play them. What’s great about those standards is they, for the most part, can be interpreted with modernity and they can sound as good this way. There are many young composers who write original « jazz » tunes that sound like music of today so I definitely think young people can be interested in jazz. The main issue is that jazz is not broadcast on the mainstream medias.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

TN: – I really don’t know, I just think that music can bring some joy to the people who listen to it.

JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

TN: – It would be great if there were more television programs about music, and if more eclectic music styles could be heard on mainstream radios. Nowadays, new radio hits all sound pretty much the same, it can be disappointing.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

TN: – These days I’m listening to the last album of piano player Aaron Parks, Makaya McCraven from Chicago, Mexican-Swiss singer Carolina Katún and the album « Songs of resistance » from Marc Ribot which I really like. I’m also rediscovering Roland Kirk’s albums and I love it !

And for sure, I will be listening very soon to the next edition of the white album of the Beatles because I’m still such a big fan.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

TN: – Difficult to answer, but what comes to my mind right now is the concert of Wes Montgomery on June 25, 1962 at the club Tsubo in Berkeley, California where the album Full House was recorded. It’s one of my favorite album of all times.

Also, being able to listen to the Coltrane classic quartet in New York in the 60’s would be amazing!

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

TN: – How did you discover my music?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. From internet …

JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

TN: – By continuing to perfect my playing the guitar and trying to write fresh new music. Thank you Simon!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Thomas Naim

Verified by MonsterInsights